Meet Bonnie the Bon Bon Doll

This weekend, GCVM is Celebrating Chocolate! The historic village will be filled with tasty chocolate recipes.

Bonnie, the Bon Bon Doll will be happy to greet you with chocolates of her own.

Bonnie is a Bon Bon doll inspired by the dolls of Godey’s Lady’s Book. She stands 19 inches tall with a reproduction head. Bonnie is handsewn, using period techniques (see below).

Bonnie’s apron is draped in ribbon, each loop holding a tasty chocolate. A wreath of sugar gum flowers circles her head. She wants to say thank you to her Museum friends for making that for her.

Bonnie’s Background

Godey’s Lady’s Book is filled with curious doll projects from pincushions, to Santas, to lamp covers. The May 1870 edition includes directions for a Bon Bon Doll.

I have yet to find another Bon Bon doll illustrated or described in detail in nineteen century publications. I am convinced I have not looked in the right place or with the right words because the artist Alan McDonald got the idea for his Madame Le Bonbon from somewhere.

Building Bonnie

The original Godey’s description had their Bon Bon doll made of cardboard, wire, and paper standing 8 inches tall and twenty inches wide. These odd proportions would have made Queen Victoria look tall and slender. Upon closer inspection, I decided the description did not match the illustration. Trying to work with the combination of cardboard and wire, I ended up with several sketches like this.

Regardless of construction, it came down to How to keep her head on? I wanted a construction that would last for more than one event. I also wanted her to stay in one piece so people setting her up wouldn’t have to fuss with her top on her bottom just right or some such fiddliness. Getting the bon bons set was going to be fiddly enough.

So, after much debate, literally months, I opted for the basic construction Godey’s uses for several of their pincushion dolls and is used for some peddler dolls.

Bonnie has a cloth body with a “normal” torso and bell shaped lower body. She is weighted with wood and has a wood dowel up her center. She stands more than double the Godeys description at nearly 19 inches and 15 inches diameter at her base before her skirts. Her head and arms are porcelain, a reproduction set. The arms were a tough decision because I really liked the idea of making almond paste hands.

Bonnie currently has a single cotton petticoat. Her dress was draped for her. You may notice her shoulder plate is slightly tilted. While this shows her personality, the asymmetry did make fitting her dress a challenge. Her collar was from the ribbon box as it seems I donated the narrow laces. Her “bow” is a little piece of cotton sateen ribbon.

Her appron is a premium cotton muslin that ties in the back. The swags of ribbon are a white cotton sateen. The rows alternate 1w and 11 loops. Each was hand pleated and stitched to the apron. The loops act as chocolate hammocks.

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Doll Hair isn’t Squishy

From November, 2013

On Friday I came home to a box on our porch. Inside was something that made me squeal…… 4mm Swiss straw plait.
I had told myself I would not do any millinery until after Christmas. Well, there sat that plait, screaming “play with me, play with me!”
Oh, how it teased!
I just couldn’t take it anymore. I cut off a length of it. Soaked it. And, began to coil the tip of a small doll bonnet.
Ah, finally, a plait in the right proportion to look right to me.
The plait was quite nice to work with. I learned quickly not to work it with my nails as it would split. This plait is actually the width of some single whole straw strips. I sewed in to the evening Friday. I sewed while watching cheese holiday romance movies on Saturday. I wrapped up the last of it as soon as we got back from shopping today.
As I finished, I became more and more excited about just how cute it looked. I kept showing it to DB. It was so cute. Check it out:

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Mae was finally going to have her own bonnet.
I got Mae and her box down. Sat on the floor all excited. Unpacked her. Put the bonnet on her head….. and frowned. Porcelain doll hair does not squish. Her hair is so wide, her head is a full 2 inches wider than Jo’s.
Small pout. Okay, Jo can have this one. Get Jo out…..
Again, porcelain doll hair does not squish.
Jo’s hair is big and goes higher on her head by about a quarter-inch.
Pout.
See, here is the problem:

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The hair pushed the back of the bonnet up, forcing the cheektabs back.

So, I’ve started another bonnet with the needed changes